Zach Parise is on track to score more goals than the 28 he buried last season and get close to the 33 he racked up in 2014-15, the most he’s recorded with the Wild.
But the winger still would like to find more consistency in his production after feeling he’s contributed at a feast-or-famine rate thus far — a trend he can’t explain.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I felt like I was playing well even when I wasn’t scoring a couple weeks ago. I liked my game. I wasn’t sitting there frustrated because I liked the chances. I liked the chances I was getting. I liked the plays I was creating for my linemates. Sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
Parise will enter the All-Star break and ensuing bye week in one of those hot streaks.
Before facing the Red Wings on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center, the 35-year-old had scored a power-play goal in four consecutive games — the first time he’s done that in his career — and had five goals overall in that span to give him a team-high 19 for the season.
The burst, which started Jan. 14 in Pittsburgh, came on the heels of a 10-game goal drought. Parise had another four-game goal streak Nov. 25-Dec. 1 and a three-game run Nov. 14-19. But before that, he scored just twice in a 13-game span.
“You don’t want to go in those long spells where it doesn’t go in,” he said. “But it happens.”
By recently rediscovering his nose for the net, Parise has helped reignite a Wild power play that had a rough December. After scoring twice Monday in a 5-4 loss to the Predators, the unit had chipped in seven goals over its previous 13 opportunities.
“Power play is never an individual thing,” Parise said. “Power play is always a group thing. You win the draws. It’s entering clean. It’s getting point shots. So many times, it’s five guys that you need everyone to have a good power play.”
Koivu, Dubnyk play
Captain Mikko Koivu returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games because of illness. Goalie Devan Dubnyk was back between the pipes after Alex Stalock started the previous three games.
With Koivu ready to play, the Wild scratched forward Ryan Donato and Koivu centered the fourth line — the spot he had before getting sick. Victor Rask remained the second-line center.
“I just think right now Rask is used to that position,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Ryan is still working at it, but I’d much prefer Ryan to be in the fourth-line spot where he wouldn’t have to play against the other team’s best defensemen all the time. That’s where we got Mikko, so I don’t want to move too many people around now.”
Before the game, the Wild recognized center Eric Staal for having reached 1,000 career points this season, his 16th in the NHL.
Accompanied on the ice by his wife, Tanya, and their three sons, Staal received a gold stick and crystal.
The 35-year-old, who will represent the Wild at the NHL All-Star Game this weekend in St. Louis, tallied his 1,000th point Dec. 15 in Chicago.